Winter has finally arrived! Less than one week ago Ottawa was still warm and green, but today we've hit negative 20 and the white stuff is everywhere you look. Though most people don't seem to be too thrilled by this natural phenomenon, that happens each year in the city that said people choose to live, there are a few of us who welcome it with open arms. I believe that it's the drastic change of seasons that keeps life interesting, makes us appreciate fleeting seasonal moments like crisp fall leaves or the arrival of spring blossoms, and lastly, but certainly not least, that brings diversity to our local food system and our diets. Let's celebrate the change of season with some warm, nourishing food.
I found this recipe on my facebook wall after someone I follow posted a link to an article about how it is possible to eat healthy on a budget. Being January and all, this attracted me - eating healthy, saving money, and the pictures looked delicious to boot! Since reading that article I've only made one of the recipes, but I made it twice in two days so that's got to say something about how much I like it. I used kale instead of spinach, since it's still going strong in my snow-covered garden, and opted to put the cheese into the polenta instead of ontop. This recipe is perfection on a chilly winter day.
Creamy Polenta with Spicy Kale & Fried Eggs
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ c polenta or cornmeal
4 c fresh spinach or kale or 1 cup thawed frozen spinach or kale
3 cloves garlic
1 anchovy (optional)
1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
½ tsp chile flakes or 1 chopped fresh chile
1/3 cup grated Romano or Parmesan
Pepper, to taste
Add 2 cups of water to a medium-size pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the salt, then turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon as you pour. Once it's smooth and thick, leave the spoon in the pot and place a lid on it, slightly askew, so that steam can escape.
Let the polenta cook while you prepare the rest of the meal, checking in occasionally to give it a stir. The total cooking time should be 25 to 30 minutes.
Chop the spinach or kale roughly, making sure to remove the hard stem if you've opted for kale. Finely chop the garlic and anchovy, if using, and set aside.
Place a pan over medium heat and add half the olive oil. Let the pan heat up until it sizzles when you flick it with water. Add the garlic, anchovy, and chile flakes. Let them cook until you can smell them, about 1 minute. Add the spinach or kale and toss with tongs until coated with the garlic mixture. Cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
When the polenta is about 2 minutes from being done stir in the cheese and start the eggs. Carefully wipe off the pan you just used, and place over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil. When the oil is hot, crack the eggs into the pan and cover with a lid to steam them, 1 to 2 minutes. You'll have sunny-side-up eggs with fully cooked whites.
Scoop the polenta into two bowls. Layer the spinach mixture over the polenta.
Once the whites have cooked, remove the eggs from the pan with a spatula and lay them over the spinach. Top with another sprinkling of cheese.